Uterus cancer

Female Body Diagram Diagram showing Uterus Cancer

Facts and figures about uterus cancer

Uterine cancer is the 4th most common female cancer in the UK. There are approximately 8,500 new cases diagnosed each year and it has been increasing over recent years.

Age related, incidence rises sharply from the age of 40 years with 75% of cases occurring in the 40-74years age group, the highest incidence being in those 70-74 years of age. 95% of these tumours are adenocarcinomas.

Risk factors include genetics, being nulliparous (not had children), being overweight/obese, diabetes, lack of physical activity, hormone replacement therapy, polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS, polyps, Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer patients who have been taking tamoxifen long term.

Longer than average oestrogen exposure, therefore an early menarche and/or late menopause will increase risk. Some oral contraceptives reduce the risk.

Uterus cancer symptoms

  • Post-menopausal bleeding Irregular bleeding in pre-menopausal women.
  • Heavier periods.
  • Blood stained or watery vagina discharge.
  • Pain/discomfort in pelvis, legs or back.
  • Pain/discomfort during sex.

Diagnosis of uterus cancer

Investigations may include:

  • Physical examination (including internal).
  • Blood tests.
  • Ultrasound scan (transvaginal).
  • Biopsy - tissue samples will be taken for analysis (there are several different ways this may be carried out).

Uterus cancer treatment

Depends on several factors:

  • The type of cancer.
  • The stage of the cancer.
  • Age and general health.

Surgery

Surgery is the main treatment and the extent of this will depend on the stage of the disease. In early stage the uterus will be removed (hysterectomy) and usually both ovaries and fallopian tubes, occasionally in younger women, one ovary may be left. This may be adequate to cure the disease.

During surgery lymph nodes from around the uterus may be taken for biopsy to enable the extent of the disease to be assessed.

In some cases, surgery will be more involved and include removing the cervix, lymph nodes and other tissues in the region (radical hysterectomy).

In advanced cases, debulking surgery may be performed to remove as much of the cancer as possible to slow down it’s progression.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy to the pelvis is often used post-operatively if a radical hysterectomy was required and/or there is thought to be a risk of recurrence.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be given after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence; this can be with radiotherapy or may be on its own.

Hormone therapy

Hormones may be prescribed for advanced cases or if the disease has recurred as it may help to shrink the tumour and control symptoms.

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